Lamb’s Players Theatre aims to “tell good stories well,” and once again they have chosen wisely. Their newest production, West Side Story, is a typically elaborate musical that director Deborah Gilmour Smyth has adapted perfectly to fit the small 350-person theater.
The stage is set for NYC streets in the 1950s. Chain link fences, metal fire escapes, and graffiti windows line the black walls. Lamb’s talented scenic designer, Mike Buckley, has cleverly incorporated the nine-piece live orchestra behind and above his set, just as he did for Lamb’s recent hit Les Miserables.
The simple set is the perfect backdrop for the flashing skirts, snappy dialogue, and rollicking dance numbers of West Side Story. In the musical, two gangs, the Sharks (Puerto Rican) and the Jets (Caucasian) battle for dominance on the streets of their blue collar neighborhood. In the middle of this rivalry, two young people fall in love — Tony is a former member of the Jets, and Maria is the younger sister of the leader of the Sharks.
The Lamb’s cast is fantastic: energetic, enthusiastic, and precise. Dance numbers like “America” and “The Dance at the Gym” are orchestrated with perfectly executed steps, complete with dazzling swing dance moves. The scene that takes the cake for execution and entertainment is “Gee Officer Krupke,” which is performed with such enthusiasm and pizzazz that it left the audience cheering.
Meanwhile, Marie (Olivia Hernandez) and Tony (Kevin Hafso-Koppman) connect well with each other and the audience as sweetly innocent lovers. Brash Riff (Jesse Abeel) and world-weary Doc (John Rosen) also sparkle in the cast. Spunky Anita (Michelle Alves) lights up the stage with her sarcasm and lightning-fast dancing feet. Alves previously performed this role for the West Side Story National Tour, earning the Best Featured Actress award from Broadway World LA.
The cast unites in crucial moments, connecting well with their audience. One especially poignant scene uses the clear, sweet soprano of Anybodys’ (Jessica Humphrey’s) to sing “Somewhere” as each member of the cast is caught in their own moment of longing. “Somewhere… we’ll find a new way of living, / we’ll find a way of forgiving / There’s a place for us, / A time and place for us!”
The characters and the audience long together for that “somewhere” throughout the play. Once again, Lamb’s Players Theatre has taken a great story and told it well, with tension and tenderness as well as passion and panache.
Where: 1142 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118
When: Thru September 6th
Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30pm
Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm
Wednesday matinee at 2:00pm
Saturday matinee at 4:00pm
Sunday matinee at 2:00pm
Tickets: Ticket range: $22-78 / Discounts for Youth 5-18 & Active Military
Phone: (619) 437-6000
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